Jeroboam completely squandered the opportunity given to him by God. The prophet Ahijah told him God would give him ten tribes (1 Kgs. 11:26-40). We know this came about when Rehoboam refused to lighten the load on the people (1 Kgs. 12:1-24). The northern kingdom was his to rule over, but he blew it.
After becoming king, Jeroboam feared the people would turn back to the house of David (1 Kgs. 12:25-33). He thought the people would go to Jerusalem to worship and rekindle their affection and national pride for Judah and kill him. Therefore, he set up a false religion. God’s response was swift and definite (1 Kgs. 13:1-10). Jeroboam was known forever as the one who introduced false religion into Israel (1 Kgs. 16:19, 26; 22:52).
Jeroboam’s sin sprung from fear of losing the support of the people. He wanted to maintain his power and prestige. He even feared his life would be taken. If Jeroboam had had faith in God, he would have realized the northern kingdom was securely his. God gave it to him. Abraham also lacked faith twice, being in fear that men would kill him to take his wife. He should have trusted God and believed His word.
The point we need to get is the fear of losing support or good will of others is dangerous. The drive for acceptance by others, either peers, those under us (boss-employee relationship, parent-child relationship, etc.), or those over us (vice-versa) can lead us to compromise the faith. The One and only one we need to please is God. As Paul said, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).
There are parents who fear “driving” their children away by being too strict. Christian parents have compromised on television, movies, dancing, cheerleading, sports, and much more in an effort to keep the “affection” of a child. They do not want their child to be isolated from others or get angry about not being part of the in-crowd. Children might want to skip services for the playoff game. When a parent fears offending a child and compromises on the morals and principles of the Bible, it is sin.
Men and women sometimes fear losing their job. The boss may want to hide money from the government or lie to the customer. When the fear of unemployment outweighs the fear of God, a Christian will sin. Jesus warned against putting the things of this world above heavenly things (Matt. 6:19-21). We will either serve God or man (Matt. 6:24).
Many preachers have compromised the faith due to fear of losing the support of a congregation or eldership. Some dare not preach plainly about modesty. Others will not mention social drinking from the pulpit. Why? They do not want to move, do not want to lose their income, or do not want to be separated from the people of the congregation. Such a man is in sin. Paul told Timothy to “preach the word” in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2). A preacher’s first loyalty is to God. When this is suppress out of fear of men, not only is the preacher headed to hell, but he is leading others down that path, and stirring up the wrath of God.
We should learn a lesson from Jeroboam: do not compromise the faith for fear of men. Fear God and keep His commandments; this is your all (Ecc. 12:13, 14).